Category Archives: Linda Cole

Why Are Kittens and Puppies Deaf and Blind at Birth?

kitten daisyreeBy Linda Cole

There’s no denying the cuteness factor of a newborn kitten or puppy. The miracle of birth is an awesome process to witness, as is the incredible bond that quickly develops between mother and babies. Puppies and kittens are born with their eyes shut and ear canals closed, which makes them functionally blind and deaf for their first few weeks of life. It seems odd that nature would deny these predator species access to two major senses – sight and hearing – at birth. However, there is a good reason why kittens and puppies are born deaf and blind.

The evolutionary process is a complex series of experiments that over time improves the survival chances of a species. At a time when the different mammal species were adapting and learning the best way to live in their environment, they had to make a choice about reproduction and development of their young. It was an evolutionary decision that would give their offspring the greatest success of living.
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Can Dogs Recognize Their Owner’s Face?

dogs recognize christopherBy Linda Cole

We know that our dogs can tell us apart from a stranger. They know our individual scent and the sound of our voice, but just how well do they know our face? Could a dog pick out the person he loves by appearance alone? According to a 2013 study, a dog can not only recognize his owner’s face among others, he can also recognize them in a picture.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland trained 23 pet dogs and eight kennel dogs to lie still in front of a TV screen as they watched a series of images while their eye movements were tracked. Each dog was tested individually. The dogs were shown images that included photos of familiar human faces and dogs, as well as faces of people and canines they had never met. The pictures on the screen alternated between upright and inverted.

Using eye-tracking technology, sensors were fitted just above the dog’s eyes to determine where he looked and how long his gaze was when watching each image. When a picture appeared, the first place each dog looked was in the area around the eyes, which indicated they understood the images were faces. Researchers found familiar faces and the eyes held each dog’s gaze longer than unfamiliar faces. All of the dogs gazed longer at faces of their own species, however, than any of the human faces including pictures of people they knew.

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12 Songs Inspired by Cats and Dogs

cat dog songs lizBy Linda Cole

In Roman and Greek mythology, the nine Muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Each goddess presided over the different arts and sciences, symbolizing artistic inspiration in writing, poetry and song. Some musicians found their muse in their pets. Below are 12 songs inspired by cats and dogs; each title links to the song on YouTube, so grab yourself a snack and have a listen!

Delilah – by Queen

Freddie Mercury, front man for the band Queen, adored cats. Most of his kitties were adopted from shelters. Mercury would call home when on tour to talk to each cat. His felines played an important role in his life and inspired his music. “Delilah” was written by Mercury as a tribute to one of his favorite cats, a tortoiseshell with an assertive personality. She was without a doubt the most famous Mercury cat. Album: “Innuendo” 1991.

CATcerto – by Mindaugas Piecaitis

If you are a fan of Nora the Piano Cat, you will love this piano piece for chamber orchestra composed and conducted by Mindaugas Piecaitis, featuring Nora on the keyboard. CATcerto was performed in 2009 by the Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra with conductor Piecaitis, who composed the piece for Nora.

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5 Things City Dogs Need to Know to Stay Safe

city dog luluBy Linda Cole

I’ve always lived in a small town, and though I can see the appeal a big city has for many people, I’ve never wanted to live in one. Dogs really don’t care what your preference is when it comes to rural or urban living, but city dogs need to have some specific skills to stay safe.

My dogs are used to a laid back and quiet environment, and we rarely meet other people walking their dogs when we’re out for a stroll. The only distractions include an occasional rabbit, deer or squirrel. If we take the dogs with us to a city, they’re excited and act like a tourist trying to take in everything at once. But they are also unsure and a bit uncomfortable as well. Big cities are full of life and activities that can take a little time for dogs to get used to.

Staying Calm in a Sea of People

Crowds of people fill the city sidewalks, all heading to their own destinations. Some are wearing uniforms or dressed like clowns or other characters a dog may not recognize. It’s important to help your pet feel comfortable and calm in a more chaotic environment. There may be people who want to pet your dog, and it’s up to you to make sure he knows how to politely greet people and when you should tell someone no. The last thing you want do is force your dog to do something he’s not comfortable doing. Some dogs are wary of strangers by nature.

Being Attentive to His Owner

With a lot more traffic and other distractions in a big city, a dog needs to pay attention to his owner, and it’s a must to keep him under control at all times. Retractable and long leashes can put a dog at risk of being injured if he steps out into traffic or rushes out of an elevator when the door opens. City dogs need to know and obey basic commands Dog-Animated-no-offerregardless of any distractions around him, especially when meeting other dogs while out walking. The “watch me” or “look at me” commands get your dog to focus on you and can be crucial if you need to get your pet’s attention.

Leave It and Drop It Commands

A city dog is more likely to find litter and garbage lying on the street or sidewalk, and it only takes an instant for a canine to grab something up. The “leave it” and “drop it” commands can save a dog’s life and save you money at the vet when you can prevent your pet from eating something he shouldn’t have. Since dogs are closer to the ground than you are, it’s not difficult for them to find a wrapper with part of a sandwich inside, cigarette butts, bones, cups, plastic bags or plastic utensils with bits of food on them. You may not see him grab something off the ground before you can tell him to leave it, but you can at least get him to spit it out by telling him to drop it.

Acclimating to Distractions and Noise

Larger cities have a variety of scents, distractions and street noise – people on skateboards, skates or bikes, someone pulling a wagon, in a wheelchair, pushing a shopping cart, jackhammers and other loud construction equipment. If a dog hasn’t been exposed to these sights and sounds, it can cause him to be nervous or scared of the noise and movement. Cities also have a lot more car and truck traffic on the noisy streets. Dogs that aren’t used to hearing the sound of garbage trucks, blaring sirens or honking horns may be bothered or scared by sudden loud noises.

Walking on Different Surfaces

city dog stephenCity dogs will encounter different types of surfaces they need to feel comfortable walking on. If they live in an apartment it could be a slippery hallway, stairway or lobby floor. Elevators, automatic or revolving doors can also be confusing for a dog that isn’t used to being around them.

The American Kennel Club recently added a new title to their Canine Good Citizen certification program. The Urban Canine Good Citizen tests dogs in specific skills they need to know in a big city environment, skills that help you keep your pet safe and under control.

A well mannered dog that’s comfortable and relaxed makes life easier for his owner, whether it’s in a large city or a small town.

Top photo by Lulu Hoeller/Flickr
Bottom photo by Stephen/Flickr

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Who Are Those Dogs in the Subaru Commercials?

subaru dogs paulaBy Linda Cole

Subaru has been airing TV commercials featuring cute dogs for quite some time. Their newest ad series features the “Barkley’s,” a family of three Golden Retrievers and one Yellow Labrador Retriever. The commercials definitely put a smile on your face as the adorable canine family “acts out” common everyday driving experiences in five different ads. What makes the commercials work is how the director of the ads was able to portray the dogs spoofing humans. So, who are those dogs in the Subaru commercials?


At five years of age when the commercials were made, Auggie is a purebred Golden Retriever and plays the Doggy Dad perched behind the steering wheel of his Subaru. When not driving the family around town, he spends his time at home on a farm in Canada with 10 siblings, although he isn’t related to any of them. He loves stuffed animals and is often seen carrying one around. Auggie isn’t a newcomer to TV commercials. He has an impressive resume under his collar already, with roles in other commercials, TV shows and movies.

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The Briard, a Faithful French Sheepdog

briard tinaBy Linda Cole

Before fences were used to set boundaries and contain livestock, sheep were free to roam the countryside. Unfortunately, in France farmers who allowed their flocks to roam outside their invisible boundaries were forced to pay high tariffs. Shepherds discovered that the Briard had the temperament and intelligence to work with sheep to keep them contained, but herding wasn’t the original job for this wise dog breed.

The history of the breed begins in France sometime during the Middle Ages. Depictions of large Briard-like dogs are on 8th century tapestries created during the reign of Charlemagne (742-814), and found in writings from the 12th century. Charlemagne gifted friends with Briards, and Napoleon is reported to have owned two of them. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with the breed while serving as Minister to France from 1784-1789, and had dogs imported to his Monticello plantation to tend his flock of Merino sheep. Marquis De Lafayette was a huge supporter of America during the Revolutionary War and brought Briards with him when he joined George Washington’s staff in 1777. Jefferson and Lafayette are both credited with introducing America to this excellent herding dog.

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